Our life living off the land in our log cabin, breathing fresh mountain air, and getting back to basics.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Pre-Cherokee Ceremonial Site & Smoke Signals

We went to Betty's Creek today, a beautiful area about 10 miles NW of us as the crow flies.  We were particularly interested in visiting the sacred, pre-Cherokee ceremonial site that Thomas Rain Crowe wrote about in his book Zoro's Field: My Life in the Appalachian Woods (click on the link to see the description in his book).  This is an excellent read if you are interested in living off the land descriptives.  After having read the book, Johny contacted Mr. Crowe, who was gracious enough to speak at length with Johny, and told him exactly where to look for this ceremonial site.

We have been to this particular spot many times and have always found it extremely peaceful and beautiful.  We have not however, experienced the same response as Mr. Crowe describes in his book.  Here are some photos from our trip...

An ancient oak tree, so large I could only get my arms around 1/3 (at best) of the trunk.  The ceremonial site is to the right of the tree, the cleared out area.

There is an old spring that has now been surrounded with rocks and covered with a board (to protect visitors I imagine), but they put a pipe in it to keep the water flowing.  It is located just to the right of the tree as you look at the photo; though it does not look like anything extraordinary, we have been told those spring waters were part of the sacred ceremonies.

As I stood looking around, I noticed that the hemlock trees in the immediate area surrounding the ceremonial site clearing, were alive (you can see the branches of the tree on the far right as well as those in the center)!  I have mentioned before that a hemlock eating bug infested the hemlocks in Western NC and devastated the trees.  While there are still some at very high elevations, I found it fascinating that the ones in this small area were not affected; behind where I stood to take this picture, which is on the other side of the dirt road heading up the mountain, the hemlocks were dead.  Perhaps it is the healing properties of the pre-Cherokee ceremonial site keeping those hemlocks alive...

Once we left that area, we met Bobby, the Betty's Creek Grounds Keeper, for the first time.  We enjoyed everything he had to share about Betty's Creek, and even traded some mushrooms we harvested while walking in the woods for some grapes!   Delicious:)

I'll continue to share more about our visits to Betty's Creek; it is on of our favorite places to hike, and it is absolutely magical.

Speaking of magical, it does appear my MiFi is not faulty, as my Internet signal is now working.  How 'bout them apples!  Makes me want to skip and jump and say woo hoo (for the most part, as now it is my carrier that must keep the connection going in these mountains; I did find out that Bertie also could not get access late yesterday); I am so very happy I have signal again!

Speaking of signals, I am sure you have heard about the Cherokee Indians (and others) using smoke signals to communicate?  There was no standardized smoke signal language like the sign language the Indians used to communicate between tribes, as their spoken language varied.  But they used smoke signals to communicate quickly over long distances;  1 puff meant "attention", 2 meant "all is well" and 3 puffs of smoke, or 3 fires in a row meant "danger, trouble or need help".  Click on the smoke signals link for more. 

Where oh where am I going with this?  In the future, if I am unable to publish the day's post on my blog because cyberspace is being uncooperative (which is extremely distressing for me), don't let your disappointment ruin your day or evening, just look to the skies for a long, vertical puff of smoke (you know, like a post, ha ha), which will be me sending a smoke signal letting you know, "all is well in our log cabin, today's post is a comin' as soon as the information superhighway cooperates".  It will be much easier than trying something like the Pony Express concept:)

(No disrespect intended here, just trying to bring some levity this situation!)

Thanks for reading my blog, you are the best f/f/r/s/f's, see you tomorrow,


Dad/Pepere said...

Great description of the ceremonial site...I felt I was there!
May the information superhighway never fail...can't read smoke signals! Please make it 2 puffs (posts) so that we will know all is well. Hugs.

Lise said...

OK dad, 2 puffs it is!